Espinacas con garbanzos is a hyper-regional dish native to Seville with strong Moorish influence that's substantive and full of flavor.
Briefly simmering canned chickpeas (uniformly tender, well seasoned and convenient) in a combination of chicken broth and chickpea canning liquid tenderized them and infused them with savory flavor.
A picada (a paste of garlic and bread cooked in plenty of olive oil) thickened and seasoned the sauce. Smoked paprika and Moorish spices such as cumin, cinnamon and saffron imbued the picada with heady aromas, and tomatoes and vinegar boosted its tang.
Thawed frozen chopped spinach was perfect here; already fine and tender, it dispersed beautifully throughout the dish and provided plenty of surface area to hold the juices in place.
ESPINACAS CON GARBANZOS (ANDALUSIAN SPINACH AND CHICKPEAS)
Serves: 4 as a main dish
1 loaf crusty bread
2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas (1 can drained, 1 can undrained)
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 small pinch saffron
2 small plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, flesh shredded on large holes of box grater and skins discarded
4 teaspoons sherry vinegar, plus extra for seasoning
10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1. Cut a 1 1/2-ounce piece from loaf of bread (thickness will vary depending on the size of the loaf) and tear into 1-inch pieces. Process in a food processor until finely ground (you should have 3/4 cup crumbs). Combine chickpeas and broth in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Adjust heat to maintain simmer and cook until the level of liquid is just below the top layer of chickpeas, about 10 minutes.
2. While chickpeas cook, heat 1/4 cup oil in a 10-inch nonstick or carbon-steel skillet over medium heat until just shimmering. Add bread crumbs and cook, stirring frequently, until deep golden brown, 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, paprika, cumin, salt, cinnamon, cayenne and saffron and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and vinegar; remove from heat.
3. Stir bread mixture and spinach into chickpeas. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick and stew-like, 5-10 minutes longer. Off heat, stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Season with salt and extra vinegar to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with remaining bread.
Recipe notes: For a vegan version, substitute vegetable broth or water for the chicken broth. If using chickpeas that you've cooked from dried, use 3 1/3 cups of cooked chickpeas and 2/3 cup of the cooking liquid. Use a fruity, spicy, high-quality olive oil here. Red wine vinegar can be substituted for the sherry vinegar.
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